Understanding Florida’s Marchman Act

Florida passed the Marchman Act in 1993 to provide a mechanism for assessing people thought to have substance abuse problems and place them in treatment. The assessment can be voluntary or involuntary. Some people are seeking help for a substance abuse problem. Other times, concerned family members request an assessment for a person who does not want one. Whatever the situation, the attorneys at Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A., can help. We have over 35 years of combined criminal law experience.

Who Can Request The Assessment?

A spouse, relative or group of three people, if the person does not have a spouse or relatives, may file a Marchman Act petition with the court. Florida law also allows for a process outside of the court system where a law enforcement officer may place the person under protective custody, either based on their own observation that the person meets the Marchman Act criteria, or by a medical or mental health professional's request.

Criteria For Involuntary Admission Into Treatment

According to the statute, the court must review the petition for certain criteria to admit someone into treatment against their will. The court must find a "good faith reason to believe" the person in question has a substance abuse impairment and that the impairment has caused them to lose self-control regarding their substance use. In addition, the person has either:

  • Inflicted, attempted to inflict, or is likely to inflict harm on themselves or others, or
  • Has become so impaired by their own substance abuse that they can no longer rationally judge their need for treatment services

Regarding the second point, a person refusing treatment is not evidence, in itself, of a lack of judgment.

What Happens If The Court Orders Treatment?

The court will hold a hearing on the petition to decide whether to order the person into an assessment. The detox and assessment lasts from three to five days. Based on the assessment, the court then decides whether to order mandatory treatment of 60 days. Depending on the situation, the court can extend the treatment period for another 90 days.

Speak With A Lawyer Today

We know how important timing can be with these issues. We have helped people in Fort Lauderdale and throughout Broward County request or contest Marchman Act assessment and treatment. Call us today for a free consultation at 954-641-8129 or send us a message online.